UK's unsettled weather set to continue


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The Independent Online

High winds and heavy rain battered England and Wales last night while parts of Scotland could face blizzard conditions later today as the unsettled weather continues.

One man had a miraculous escape when a tree smashed into his bedroom while he was asleep in Winchester, Hampshire.

Former ambassador Richard Wilkinson, 65, suffered only an ear injury despite the beech tree crushing his bedroom. Luckily his wife Angela, 52, was away as the tree crashed onto her side of the bed.

The south of England and South Wales bore the brunt of the wind and rain last night with up to 40mm falling in some areas in 12 hours.

But an even stronger storm that was forecast for later this week is now expected to be weaker and hit France and Germany, explained Chris Burton from MeteoGroup, the Press Association's weather arm.

"It's not unusual to get a westerly flow from the Atlantic causing stormy weather over the UK during Autumn and early winter," he said.

"For the last few years it's been different with colder weather, so it seems worse than usual, but it's not."

Gusts of 70mph were measured in Devon, 60mph in South Wales and 64mph was recorded in Langdon Bay, Kent, Meteogroup said.

There was isolated flooding in the West Country and high winds closed part of the Tamar Bridge, one of the main routes between Devon and Cornwall for a time. Up to 40mm of rain fell in Plymouth.

The Environment Agency has a number of flood alerts on rivers in the South West with the rain causing some flooding.

London received 40% of its monthly total for December when around 20mm fell. The average for the month in the capital is 50mm.

Hampshire Police said the force had received 206 calls in the past 24 hours relating to floods and fallen trees compared to 18 in a normal day.

Western Power - who provide electricity across the south west, south west Wales and into the Midlands - confirmed hundreds of homes have been experiencing problems with supply due to the weather conditions.

Today the focus will switch to Northern Ireland and South West Scotland where gusts of 80mph are expected.

The Scottish transport minister warned snow and strong winds could leave commuters facing rush hour disruption today.

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings of snow for eight regions of Scotland from 3am today for a 24-hour period.

Forecasters also warned of strong winds with gusts of up to 80mph possible across Argyll and Bute and winds of more than 60mph a possibility throughout the central belt.

Heavy snowfall above 200 metres could lead to blizzard conditions across higher ground.

The warnings come days after last Thursday's storm battered the country, leaving thousands of homes without electricity and leading to widespread school closures.

The Met Office said one of the stormiest periods the UK has seen for several years was set to continue with heavy rain, strong winds and snow for parts of the country.

Tomorrow is predicted to be "bright and breezy" for most places, according to the Met Office.